Recently, our whole family took a much-needed vacation. We decided to go to Sanibel Island on Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast because it’s one of our favorite beach escapes.
We just wanted to relax, lay back with some good books, take walks along the shore with the sandpipers, watch the dolphins play and the pelicans and herons fish for their dinner (very cool) and visit some of our favorite restaurants and try out some new ones.
We picked a gulf front condo for our stay. Every morning I awoke to the soothing sound of the waves and when I opened my eyes and looked out the picture window, the first thing I saw was the beach.
We figured that if we stayed in a condo, we would be able to prepare some gluten free meals in the kitchen. No matter where your ideal vacation takes you, you can have a perfect gluten free vacation with a little planning.
7 ways to a Carefree Gluten Free Vacation
1. Don’t be shy
Call ahead; speak to the chef at the resort. Many deliver fantastic gluten free experiences.
2. Don’t let your restrictions get in the way
Being unable to eat gluten is only one part of your life. Look at it in terms of what you can eat, not what you can’t. Mind what you eat, but don’t forget to have a wonderful vacation.
3. Check if there are local health food stores
Health food stores usually carry products specific to food intolerant individuals. We found a terrific little health food store with a juice bar. The owner was more than willing to prepare our favorite smoothie recipes in her Vitamix.
4. Shop in local grocery stores
Frankly, even without a special diet to work around, sometimes it’s just nice to relax in your room or condo after a day at the beach and not be in a rush to get ready for a dinner out. Today, most grocers carry gluten free products. You may choose to cook your very own favorite dinner or at the very least pick up some breakfast and lunch options. (Bailey’s on Sanibel carried many of our favorite gluten free products)
5. Plan for snacks
My favorite snack is apples. You may prefer other fruits, carrots, celery or try hummus that can be spread on gluten free crackers, gluten free bagel chips with cream cheese, gluten free power bars, gluten free pretzels, nuts and raisins or popcorn, or gluten free chips and salsa.
6. Local restaurants
Most chefs today are happy to work with you to accommodate food allergies. Dining gluten free in Sanibel turned out to be quite a good experience. After the third night, my son commented while eating gluten free spaghetti, that we had not had one bad meal yet!
Here are a few who went out of their way to accommodate us with gluten free options: Cip’s Place (most accomodating with a separate gluten free menu; choices prepared in gluten free only pans and they even serve gluten free bread), The Mucky Duck (which is on Captiva, Sanibel’s sister Island, was willing to customize options so we could enjoy the sunset without worry), Traditions (offered gluten free spaghetti), Cheeburger Cheeburger (best burgers ever, ordered without the bun), The Old Captiva House (custom choices prepared with flair; be sure to save room for the gluten free creme brûlée in a chocolate shell), Over Easy Cafe (this was our favorite brunch place; ordered fruit with our eggs instead of toast)
7. B.Y.O. B.
Bring your own bread. You may want to pack your favorite gluten free foods to be on the safe side. And don’t forget your sunglasses and camera.
What’s your favorite vacation spot? Have you found the locals gluten free friendly? Leave your comment below.